Ensign N T Shows Jr
P C E (R) 852
World War II Journal of Ensign N. T. Shows, Jr.
Placed here with permission of N. T. Shows III
October 4, 1944
Will go back for a little Review--Last July 6, about 1800 (6 PM) I reported aboard for duty in Miami, Florida. Underway at 8 o’clock next morning for Bermuda. (Worked nearly all night on evaps before sailing so missed being with Jean the last night. She left the same date for Melville.) The ship was stationed to Marginal Warf [sic] for Shakedown & training period. Underway for this purpose most of the time.
On July 29 at 2 A.M. I rece’d a message from Red Cross saying Jean seriously ill. Got 8 days leave, 4 days travel time. Caught plane that evening for Miami, arrived about 11:30 that night. Slept at B.O.Q. & hitch hiked via air next day--arriving about 8:30 that night. Got a 10 day extension of leave. Jean got better & came home. Left Melville 3 A.M. of 16 Aug., hitch hiked back to Miami by air. Had to wait a couple of days for plane to Bermuda. Finally arrived there--to find my ship detached and gone. Arrived here the 23rd Aug. The ship came in the 25th. Fueled, etc. & headed directly for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Had rough trip for a week. Pearl Harbor so changed I couldn’t tell that I’d actually been there for 3 months before the war. Big & and overcrowded. There so short a time, & lots of work to do, there was little time for anything for work. Got around only one day while after spare parts & filters.
On the 22nd of Sept. We sailed out. Broke steering cable, had to return for repairs. Left the 23rd for Fungafuti Island--one of the Ellice group. Had good trip down. Crossed Equator on Sept 26--Got my revenge on the Polywogs--after waiting six years!--Crossed the date line--clocks went ahead 24 hrs at midnight 28th--Skipped the 29th--Gee—
Arrived Oct 1, pulled along side tanker and fueled--stayed here for the nite. Underway at 7 next morning. No mail, going or coming, no stores. Nothing on the island but natives & fruit trees. No liberty either.
It’s been a smooth trip from there. Clocks went back an hour again nite before last. Still going West. Will pass through Soloman [sic] Islands tomorrow.
Bearing burned out today on my fire & flushing pump motor. Cleaning oil cooler on 60 K.W. Cummins Diesel Generator.
To-nite three years ago I was eleven hundred miles north of Iceland. Had 8--12 watch on #1 throttle on Tuscaloosa. Remember so well because the doctor had told Jean N.T. III would be born on that date. (But nature delayed him to the 10th.) The 851 & 853 are with us. Hope they stay.
Gee, but its a long way home. Right now it is fifteen minutes until eleven A.M. October 3, Tuesday. We’ve crossed the Date line. Still going west.
3 P.M. Same date. Salvo Island is in plain sight. The Cruisers San Juan and Juneau went down here, with the five Sullivan Brothers; also Barney Oldread & Clyde Jones, Newtie’s husband, Chief Mechanist Mate. Japs had all this under control. Hundreds of their planes were shot down here. Solomon Islands and Guadalcanal in plain sight.
Oct. 5, 9 A.M. Just read over my last letter from Jean, written Sept. 5, exactly one month ago! Clocks went back another hour last night. The whole night & trip has passed without a single enemy contact. Am holding school for “E” Div. every day, teaching them what to do in battle & damage control. They’re interested & learning lots. Drills every day. Routine work & watches otherwise. Spent couple of hours on bridge learning more about navigation & instruments. It’s very hard for me.
Heard part of the first game of the World Series today. St. Louis Browns & Cardinals. Browns won 2-1. Started 4:30 P.M. Here. Guess its 1:30 P.M. yesterday back home. Am in bed now, tired & sleepy!
Oct. 6--Regular Sea Routine, drills & school today. Nothing unusual, patrol planes sighted. Expect to arrive at New Guinea tomorrow. Oct. 7--arrived Fitch-Haven 8 A. M. Pulling in about nine, but couldn’t anchor because we couldn’t find any bottom. Let out 90 fathoms of chain, (540 ft.) So just layed to until orders to proceed came. Four P.M. we left. Going to Manus, about 300 miles north. A big tanker just caught up with us. 7 P.M. The weather has cleared, but been raining hard off & on all day. Understand it rains most of the time here anyway. C.B.’ees had a big camp there. I’d hate to live in a place like that. Swamp & jungle extends to the beach in places. Wrote my boy last night. Will write Jean now. Mail goes off at Manus. Come to think of it, I couldn’t get much farther from home--be headed back on the other side. 7,000 miles from Frisco I heard.
Manus Bay, Admirality [sic] Islands, Oct. 8 1944. Arrived 5 P.M. Such a concentration of Sea power I’ve never seen. Must be more than three hundred ships in, Battleships on down. The West Virginia, Tenn., Idaho, New Mexico, Colorado & others. Counted seventeen aircraft carriers, there is more. Countless cruisers, destroyers, DE’s, LST”s Sub. craft, etc. Many Merchantmen & tankers. We fueled & anchored--10:30 now. We all hope & pray for mail. Large marine camp, army & C. Bees on Beach. Must be a million men in this bay now--& womanless!!
Had a good church service this morning. Mr. McConnal, the 1st Lieut. led. Talked on John 3:16 & general discussion.
Found half a pair of dungarees in my evaps. No wonder trouble since Panama!--We’re just south of the Philipine [sic] Islands.
October 9, 1944--Carrying out Ships work--Have the officer of the Deck duty today. # 1 Motor Whale boat engine passed out. Won’t run. Supplies coming aboard by the tons. Mail came. Thank goodness for all the news.
Oct. 10--Same routine. Got a pair of C Bee’s green clothes & shoes. Much cooler than greys. Gee, this sun has no mercy on man or Beast. No wonder natives are black & brown. Working hard to get our evaps in operation. Will be ready to get underway early tomorrow morning.
Oct. 11, Got Underway about seven. Was up most of the night with Motor Boat Evaps, Stores and other routine work. All set now. For Breakfast we had a fresh apple, & dinner--lettuce. Fresh things that taste so very good after cans. They won’t last long. Can’t carry much. Today is actually my boy’s Birthday (Its the 10th back home). Its the day we are starting on our big drive on the Philipine [sic] Islands. We’re in front rank with two Destroyers. Around the landing force is a screen of Destroyers, P.C. etc. Its a very big force, and will hit the Island of Leyte--Southern Central of Philipines [sic]. The convoy is making 4 knots. We slowly circle, so are up to six. Just think--4 knots. A good walk, and we have a lot of water to cover. Think we’ll start hitting on my birthday, the 16th. But it’ll be a couple days later before we reach ours. This coming week will be a long one. In some ways, all too short. This is the last week of life for many of these fellows.
Oct 12, 8 P.M.--Columbus Day. Last night 8 years ago I saw L.S.U. & Ga. Tech play football. Went with Ed, Vi, Willow [sic] & Lottie Kramer. Next day rode to Alex from Meeker with Tillie & Helen Merrifield. Passed exam, rode train to New Orleans. Saw Vi at Meeker Station, Mother & Dad at Melville. Then on with my “Naval Career”. Next day I said “I do” in New Orleans! Eight years--Gee!!
A P.C. craft pulled along side to deliver guarded instructions & our exhaust line ripped her side open where she got too close. We didn’t stop; guess they’re still afloat, didn’t look back too hard.
Everything calm & peaceful. Took sun bath for 4 minutes & almost burned. Pink as can be.
Good luck day. We had General Quarters for drill. All hands ordered to rest much as possible, get as much sleep as we can. No telling how long we’ll be up when the fire works start. The Big boys passed us this morning. Battleships & plane carriers. Don’t know how many, but plenty it seems. There is more than a hundred ships in sight now. Plenty more over the horizon, both forward and behind us.
Sat, Oct 14--Well, the good luck day passed without mishap. Had a good general quarters drill this morning. Getting close to the Palu Islands, where much fighting has been going on lately. Passed lots of drift wood, telephone poles etc. Guess it came from there. Have practiced our plan of attack lots, and the boys know what to do. Was given lots of morphine shots to give in case any of my men get wounded. Pray I won’t have to use a single one. My pistol is checked & oiled, knife sharpened, life jacket tested. Rafts checked, guns in shape. Nearly full of fresh water. Machinery O.K. In short, we’re as ready as we’ll ever be. Still creeping along. A day seems like a week!
Oct. 15, 1944--Sunday night. After quarters for Muster this morning had General Quarters. Also last night. Submarine contact. Went to full speed for an hour. Dropped no charges. Had church at 10. I led the singing--not because I can sing, but because I remembered the songs. Read Scriptures & Prayers. Then a day of holiday routine. Everyone is asleep now--9 P. M. Just took a walk through the ship. I’m so lonely that I like to scream just to hear the echo. This drive started on my Boy’s Birthday. The fire works begin on mine--tomorrow, the 16th. (It’s the 15th at home then) We hit ours about Wednesday, but won’t hit the beach until Friday.
Will write Jean, then turn in, but not sleepy. Just read ‘Border Breed’ a bloodthirsty western novel by William MacLeod Raine. Hear the captain stirring, don’t guess he can sleep either. Only a thin partion [sic] between our rooms. Will go in & talk a while.
Oct. 16, My Birthday, & what a day! Got orders to fuel this morning. Dropped back with convoy, pulled alongside LST 1024. So many ships made the sea very chopy [sic]. They furnished hose & line, thank goodness. Came dangerously close to them several times, then would sheer way out. My heart in my throat often. Then the expected happened. We bumped them. Just dented our side in a bit, didn’t rip through, but the bridge lost steering control & we sheered out beyond hose length. It was stretching when we got her loose & she (the hose) just flew through the bit. It would have snapped anyone’s leg off if it had hit. Dare not make over 240 turns on Port screw. Have to go in the yard if we get back. 12 ½ knots our full speed now! If not one thing its another!!
Oct. 17--Had General Quarters at five this morning. In Semi G.Q. now. Expect enemy at any time. Caught the tankers this morning about 10. All Destroyers are fueling. Plane carriers are on the horizon shielding us. Several planes in the sky at all times. Saw several birds this morning too. Palu very close. We’re cutting north around them.
Giving Formosa a terrible bombing drawing the enemy away if possible. Don’t know if the fleets will meet.
At 3 P.M. A Jap plane came in. Only one. I was on the bridge. The last we saw of him three of our F4 F fighters were fast after him. Had General Quarters at sunset for an hour. Secured port engine to save it. Screw vibrates pretty bad. Can’t make over 12 ½ knots under any circumstances.
Oct. 18--G.Q. this morning at 04:45. Boy that's early to start the day off. Lasted until sunrise, about 06:00. Have seen several shark today. These waters are full of them. They really look nasty. Would hate to abandon ship along here. The sea is also very deep in this area. Up to six miles!
The day has passed without mishap. Probably won’t get to write tomorrow night. Expect to be at G.Q. for several days. Go through the Straits at Midnight.
Oct. 20, 1944--It’s now 9 P.M. Haven't had time to write anything, so will go back to midnight of the 18, only night before last, but it really seems a month ago! General Quarters sounded before we started through the Straits. We stayed on our stations all the way through, expecting shore batteries to open up or plane raid any minute. Only planes bothered us a little. The Battleships did a good job on them (shore batteries) that day. Mine sweepers had swept the bay clear of all mines. At 04:00 we arrived at Leyte. Opened fire--Battle ships, cruisers, destroyers. That pounding is impossible to convey to any reader. Our planes bombed & lots of dog fights. We, with our one three inch and 20 mm guns hung back with the LST’s & landing craft. But could see the whole show very plainly as daylight came on. The whole ship steadily quivered from the concussions. Our nearest bomb fell about 300 yards off our Port Bow. At 10 A.M. the first landing wave went in. Then one after another. By noon things seemed to be pretty much under control. We pulled in close. The palm trees that are snapped in half. Buildings wrecked, including a church the Japs were using for supply base. The cross & steeple still stand, but the rest is a mass of wreckage.
Our troops met mortar fire & the whole operation stopped until planes could spot them. Ships fired again. Bombers and Dive Bombers did their job. We’ve now landed thousands, and not many killed. Early last night a Jap torpedo plane got the U.S.S. Honolulu, a cruiser. Hit her engine room & exploded a magazine. 41 are missing, 18 killed. Don’t know how many wounded. Ran her up on the beach. Her guns continued firing all night. Early this morning we pulled up to her. Took off part of her wounded. This crew had never seen it before. But now they know what war is. We kept them on until 3 P.M. Then transferred all to a large transport hospital ship--way out. Came back in. Opened up on several planes today. Lots were shot down, but don’t think we got any.
They’ve been shelling & bombing what is called “Peter Hill” all day. How anything living can still be there is beyond me. Reminds me of Cassino Hill in Italy. A smoke screen is layed at night. Until 8 we had G.Q. More enemy planes, but have been driven off. With loses [sic] to them only. Several LST’s have been hit & various landing craft, during the operations. During this last G.Q. we rec’d more wounded from the Beach. Soldiers. Believe it or not they were wounded by our own fire while sneaking up on pill boxes. Lots were killed. It’s an awful sight. Legs or arms off, gapping holes in body or hips, head concussions. Ray (Dr. Mallot) is really busy right now. Thinks he can save about all of them.
I had a nap in engine room this afternoon. 1st in 2 days. Just had a bath, so feel pretty fresh.
The Honolulu is off the Beach. Two tugs had her in tow last I saw of her. A Jap plane was hit while making a try for a destroyer about 5:30. She fell within about a hundred yards of us, flaming stem to stem. They’re still shelling. Bomb Bomb, right after another, but it won’t keep me awake!
News broadcast says General McAuthor (sic) has returned to Philipines(sic)! Admiral Nimitz is personally directing the invasion (but bet a nickel he is directing from Honolulu where he was when we left there). Admiral Kincaid is here. So is Wilson.
Wish I was home with Jean!! It’s midnight now. Another plane attack. Yes we fired. Bombs fell but they couldn’t hardly see, neither could we. No report on any damage. I had just layed down at 10:30. That seems to be how it is, in waves & you just wait for the next with a pounding heart. Be so glad when it’s over.
Oct. 21--9:30 P.M. There has been a lull in the firing today, from the ships. Only two cruisers have been pounding. Our troops have gone 6 or 7 miles inland. Had General Quarters only four times today. No planes downed in sight.
General Mc Author [sic] is on the Beach. Broadcasting to the people.”I have Returned.” But from the wounded we hear it isn’t “Hail Mac Author [sic].” Its “Hail Yanks” from the natives who have now returned from the hills to which they ran to miss the firing. Their homes are all wrecked.
General Mc Author [sic] doesn’t seem to be thought well of out here by the Army or Navy. They remember how he left (was pulled) from the Philippines--arranged to save even his household goods & left what few American nurses there were to be raped by the Japs when he could have saved them. Such stories went through the Navy circles long ago. Now I hear the same from the “G.I. Joe,” so there must be something to them, but will never reach our people, because they have built him into such a hero. Our boat crew saw him today. His quarters are about a quarter of a mile away, right on the edge of the Beach. We’ve had more wounded today. But in all, very light. 400 last count, about 200 killed. They threw the dead Japs in their own trenches & a bull dozer covered ‘em up--that was that. Made a Grave Yard for ours, & we can see the white crosses from here. Guess many of them wore wedding rings. Each one some mother’s son, and will be missed. All one can say is “Too Bad.” We have found several bodies from the cruiser Honolulu. Sent them in on our Whaleboat, buried ‘em.
Hope it stays quiet tonight for once. I’m sleepy & rather tired, but not too much. I don’t ache. Too thankful to feel any other way.
Oct. 22--General Quarters at four-thirty, but nothing came within range. So peaceful we even had quarters for muster at 8 o’clock. Usual routine, cleaned up the engine rooms a bit. Hope to rest the rest of the afternoon. --It’s 12:45. Slept very good. Gee, a lot of ships are leaving. From the big ones on down. Wish we were pulling out too! It’s okay with all that power around. But it’s fading slowly. All transports & supply ships have unloaded to the beach.
Evap trouble. Just dirty. Boys cleaning them now. 10 P.M. I’m going to bed now. Been up a long time if you overlook my evening’s sleep, but am still sleepy. News looks good. Jap news certainly does lie. They have sunk about everything we have here, including Battleships. Actually, no ship has gone down, few hit.
Oct. 23--What a day! It’s 10 P.M. now and I’m so worn out. But better put the day down (& last night) before it all gets too confusing & runs together. I didn’t get that hoped for sleep last night; just started it. At 12 (midnight) they brought more casualties out. I (my division) was asked to help handle them. 18 in all, and about 10 of them on their feet. Just shell shocked & nervous wrecks. How they cry, scream, and glare at you with such vacant eyes! We could just pet & and humor them, already had several shots of morphine, so couldn’t give them more. This went on until about five, slowly one wore himself out, then another. Ray was operating on others at the same time. I held pints of blood plasma up until I ached. Giving as many a four at once in one man, each arm & leg. One was shot through the lungs, & his heart would build up air & blood pressure in his chest. Ray just drove a hollow needle through his chest. Expected him to die any minute, but he got better & was fully conscious when we transferred him to a transport this evening, headed back. One boy’s right arm was just hanging by a half-inch of skin, part of his shoulder blown off. At 5:30 we had General Quarters, all manned our battle stations. No serious attack, just pestered us until 8:30 then left. Few dog fights, but our planes were off on another mission mostly. At 10:30 they came back, more in number. Our cruisers, battleships & most all destroyers had pulled out about 4 A.M. The Japs had sent the reenforcements (sic) they’d said were on the way. One big plane carrier & heavy screen of cruisers & destroyers. They haven’t returned yet so we know nothing about it, except their planes came here. General Quarters secured at 3:30 P.M., ate sandwiches at 4:15. We fired almost constantly. Bombs gave us several bad shakes, but no hit. A couple of ships were though. They bombed the beach too. We pulled in close. Right now about a 100 yrds. from it.
The Captain & I started to go ashore at 5:10 about & just as we started to get in the boat General Quarters sounded. All hell broke loose again. We got at least two--probable damage to others. They blew the place used for a boat dock to hell, right where we would have landed if we had left five minutes earlier. The ship is no virgin anymore, we've been hit by machine gun fire!
What was left, left here at 8. Just finished supper, Salmons & a can of beer? We got 10 cans per man in Manus (Admirality [sic] Islands) for a beer party, if we ever get the chance for one! The captain said every man rated one tonite, and was it good! The first intoxicating beverage I’ve ever seen served openly on a U.S. Man O’ War, but the boys really rated the privalege [sic].
Those poor shell shocked guys. It’s too pitiful to talk about. Only, they just went wild. Ray Mallot gave them plenty and they just quieted down. Took the whole repair party & men I spared from the engine room to hold them in.
I intended writing Jean after I finished this, but just can’t. The page blurrs [sic] even now.
Oct. 25 10:30 P.M.--Dog tired & ache. Got to bed about this time last night & just passed out 4 ½ hours. At 3 A.M. General Quarters sounded. We had rece’d a blunt message--quote: “Stand by for Bombardment from the Japanese Fleet.” You talk about spine tickle etc.; waiting for 14 & 16 inch shells to start falling; dared not go out. Just waited. For two hours this went on & not a man even yawned I bet. Five o’clock word came our fleet present & engaging the enemy and presently we could hear the booms & see the shells streak the sky. Then their air force hit us. Strike then leave for nearly an hour, strike again. We got six of them. A tug & LST hit. Secured G.Q. At 9:40. All Clear. 40 minutes later they were back. 18 in one group, 12 another, & several groups up to 12. We got 2 certain. But everybody was firing; help came & one of our own was shot down by us. They left about 11 o’clock. We got underway for ‘Red Beach’ at 11:30, 5 mi. up the coast line to another landing. Boys had a tough time here. Many wounded & killed. On the way we passed a dead jap floating. All puffed up, been dead several days. A floating body isn’t a pretty sight, but a dead jap is a good one. Just as we anchored, God, what a raid! They raked us from stem to stern. Poor old Dempsey got a 50 ca. bullet through the left hip in front & it came out through the right cheek of his rear (yeoman 1/c). Several rece’d minor wounds, none killed. Nearest Bomb about 100 yards. Mine Sweeper hit. L.S.T. & another tug. We brought down four, several damaged & and limped off. Up til 9:30 tonite; they’ve come about every 30 min. Seem more interested in raking us instead of bombing. Guess they figure we’re too small to waste them on. News from our fleet, 2 Jap battleships blown up, a cruiser, 3 destroyers down. Plane carrier afire. Don’t know our damage, except they got one torpedo boat.
We pulled alongside an L.S.T. this evening for wounded during the lull in battle. Threw my clothes over the side, soaked in blood. An officer on it said “Come take a look.” Think he was about ready for the madhouse himself. Anyway, we walked over to 4 bodies covered with canvas. He threw the corner back. The head was blown off, one shoulder and arm. I know I froze to the spot a minute, turned away.
Tisdale froze to the guns too, stark mad. Forsha can’t be trusted anymore, shakes like a leaf. Valentino fell on his knees crying, saying, “Relieve me! Relieve me!” I spoke in a gruff voice, “What’s the matter with you, Tough Nut??” Just because I didn’t know what else to say. I knew what was the matter, but he snapped right out of it. All this time he was holding my pants leg. Didn’t have to hit him. There are about ten in the sick bay in bad nervous shape. I’ve had enough too, and just pray to God I don’t crack also. I don’t think will last much longer.
If I get through this war, someone will play hell getting me into another one.
Oct. 27th--Have just been too tired & sleepy to write. Same thing been going on. Put our real bad cases on Naval Hospital ‘Mercy’ yesterday. Took some from an LST 552; 18 killed, 40 wounded, some soldiers. A million dollars burned. Money they were going to use here.
Part of our fleet has returned. One destroyer just is afloat & that's all. Lost the Grant, 2 carriers, 6 PT boats. Blasted hell out of Jap fleet. Jackson shot down a jap plane yesterday morn. 7 bombs just missed us last night, from high altitude. 69 planes shot down by the force afloat in last 2 days. By the way, we are attached to “Task Force 79” in case they leave McAuthor out of the news long enough to print it. The Navy has done everything but dig his fox hole for him. Haven’t seen one single army plane since the works began.
The PCE (R) 850 was hit in her 3 in. ammunition ready box. Killed 2, wounded 8. Dempsey was transferred to ‘Mercy.’ Doc says he won’t live much longer. Getting little sleep & even less time to cook & eat. I stay half drunk on coffee. Cheese & bacon sandwiches. More fleet in today. Some cripple. That’s the high points, too tired for details. Don’t ever be so silly as to ask me, “Didn’t you get scared?”
Oct. 28--I’ve lost a date somewhere. This is Sat. Started this a week ago yesterday! Yesterday was navy Day Also Bub’s Birthday. Wonder where he is. Some P38 planes came in yesterday. First time the army has been in the air. Boy did we feel good. They did stunts & cut didoes for a while. But at 4:30 P.M. When the enemy came again, not one was in the air! The Japs scored a lucky hit on an ammunition dump on the beach. God, what an explosion. Killed 250 men, countless wounded. Bet our ship jumped a foot out of the water, & a mile away nearly. Thought sure we were hit hard. Our ship set 2 more planes afire this morning. One fell on the beach, other crippled off. We were at General Quarters all night. The stench from the dead is terrific--for passed [sic] two days. Getting kinda used to it now & ate a little supper. But my guts can stand anything now. We have a fresh load of wounded aboard now, but no big hospital ship to take them to. Hear one comes tomorrow. By the way--Admiral Kinkaid personally sent the U.S.S. PCE (R) 852 a message yesterday. Quote; “Congratulations, Well Done.” Boy they really held field day on the Jap fleet. Oh yes, that ‘can’ (destroyer) I spoke of earlier as being low in the water lost half her crew. Tonight’s news says 14,000 Japs killed here. Little over 1000 for us. Seems like I’ve seen more dead that that the passed week, but nearly all were sailors--so don’t guess we count much.
Such stories that come from the wounded, also from the natives that paddle out to beg clothes & food. Up to about 12 years old they run around naked. Even the kids had to work the fields--one peso a day--(1 cent) Then just script, not real money. The tales on the women are awful. Kept several chained right in camp--& when a Jap wanted a little bit, go out & get it, but that has been typical of them for years. Look how they raped the women of China. Even to the six & seven year olds. Here too there are stories of it.
Things are getting pretty well under control. It is raining now, hope it lasts all night for us on account of planes. But God have Mercy on the boys right over in the fox holes, they are taking a beating. Besides, the Japs counter attack every night. Snipers awful.
Sun. Oct 28--We had trouble last nite till 2 A.M. But none came very close to us. Over the transport ships area mostly. The PCE 848 took 3 near misses by bombs, lost ¼ of her crew. Their Eng. Officer has cracked up. We transferred all wounded to the big hospital ship “Comfort” this afternoon. Been a quiet but busy day. It’s 7:30 P.M. now, cloudy & little rain. Going to bed now & still hope for a nite’s rest & sleep.
Monday nite--29, Tues. 30, & Wed. 31st
Halloween! Of all things. 4 Jap planes kept us on our battle Stations from 4 to 8:30 P.M. They blew up our oil tanks ashore. Big fire..P38’s shot down 2--& 2 escaped. They didn’t come near us. By the way, we have two Jap flags (small) painted on side of our bridge. Have caught up quite a lot on sleep & rest. Gee, it feels good not to feel in a half daze. Early this afternoon another Jap body floated by our ship. He was a flyer. Still had his flying belt on. We still have G.Q. early in the morning & a couple of times a day, but haven’t opened fire ourselves since last mentioned. Right now everything is O.K. & if I could just look up and see Jean, I wouldn’t even know a war was going on!
Nov.1--Boy, last nite turned out to be a busy one! They came in at midnite & we were on our G.Q. Stations until 3 A.M. Then again from 4 to 6. But got rest today. At 4 P.M. they came again. Got 2 of our destroyers at the entrance of the bay, about 5 miles away. What explosions! Seems black smoke went into the sky far up as you can see. Their bombs fell near us, but they are after the air field. Those P-38’s finally went to giving them hell. The island is under our control, but plenty fighting & killing still going on. We took on & put off more wounded today.
It’s 10:30--Been censoring mail for 3 hours. Must be over a thousand letters to go off, when it does go. We can hardly wait. Wish Jean could hear from me for her birthday tomorrow, but impossible.
Nov.2--Went to G.Q. At 11:30 last night. Was looking at the clock when it hit 12. Starting the 2nd of Nov.--Jean’s birthday. Have spend several hours since at same. Japs started a few fires on beach but no ships were attacked. Sent our mail in this A.M. too. Managed a last minute note to Jean.
Changed lube oil & filters in 100 K.W. Generator Diesel & Main Engine--12 cyl. General Motors 567. The same engine used in Diesel Stream liner trains. We took on no casualties today. Seems our business is slacking up now. Don’t know what we’ll do, but look for more landings.
Nov.3--6:30 P.M. They just don’t leave us alone at night. Did pretty well for themselves too. Got 2 of our planes on the ground. Set fire to a supply ship. Hit the PCE (R) 851 & missed us. How they can keep missing us I don’t know. A bomb really rattled our teeth. Sides are dented from shrapnel, but none through. Shot down five. One crashed into an L.S.T. We have the wounded aboard. One fellow’s face is a sight. Skin peeled off, appears dead white, hands & feet also burned bad. He’ll live, but what a scar I’m sure it’ll have. It’s cloudy & rainy--they like that--expect to be up all nite again. They just strafed the air field an hour ago, drop out of the clouds & away they go, 4 of them. Don’t know the damage of that one. It’s been a hectic two weeks, but everything will be all right I’m sure. Just darkened ship, been eating supper.
Sun. Nite--Nov. 5, Wonder if Jean & our family got to church today. There hasn’t been mail, my last from her was Sept. 27, little after her operation. If everything has gone fine she should be up. Have been half sick last couple of days. Throat so sore, feels raw, bones ache, & had a little fever this morning, but feel better now. I felt silly getting treatment for just that when so many are really in a bad way.
As for the war, the Japs unloaded four transports full of soldiers & supplies--reinforcements--on “our” Leyte. How they kept the Jap fleet out & let transports sneak in is beyond us. They’ve set our troops back 3 miles today. But McAuthor [sic] says things are under control. He sent a major to “Dixie Bell,” our command for 100 lbs of rabbit, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.--some joke! Press news radio said a bullet narrowly missed him the 1st day. Well, thousands it didn’t miss, but our people “eat up” such as that.
They’ve bombed hell out of our airfield--hide the planes at nite in the woods. We have a Lt. (flyer) aboard. On patrol he shot down 4 Jap planes, came in at dusk only to be shot down by our artilliary [sic] fire--that happens real often though. He is burned from head to toe very bad. Ray says he might die. Several others have already. The Japs have done lots more damage than has been admitted by our side, but such is war. Convoy came in this morning--might say crippled in--they’ve been under heavy Jap air attack. Those Jap fliers don’t seem to give a damn if they’re shot down or not, they come right on in.
The captain just called me in his room for a stiff drink from the medical stores. Enjoyed it, but it didn’t do my throat any good. Jean, I hope I’m forgiven for having a drink while not with you!
Nov. 7--The war must be about over far as the ships are concerned in this area. We’ve not had a General Quarters last couple of days. We’re getting back in the old routine. Ships work and cleaning. Had 13 extra duty men cleaning my bildges [sic] for two hours last night. They “slept in” after hours.
If these peaceful days continue may even get ashore yet. Been so long ago though I’m used to it. Bet I couldn’t walk half a mile without being out of breath. No mail yet, every day we all hold our breaths until the boat goes and comes, hoping. So far it’s always empty handed, but it can’t go on forever. We expect it now. Ships coming and going from Manus-Admirality [sic] Islands & Palu every day. One has to bring some sometimes. I’ve read my old letters from Jean so much now that I know them all by heart. No sign of us being ordered away from here yet. Wish we would move though. Either North or South. It’s too quiet after so much excitement. Would love to see the fall leaves back home. Guess it’s cool too. God it’s hot here. Prickley [sic] heat all over our backs & tummies. Sweat rolls off you until about 10 at night, then it’s bearable. No sooner than the sun is in sight in the morning, you can feel the burning of it.
Nov. 9-Yesterday evening & all last night we had a bad storm. The ship drug anchor quite a distance before we could get underway. Came very near drifting into a Tanker & was headed right for the beach. The ship rolled & rocked all night. It’s 9:30 A.M. Now, breeze still stiff. Both anchors down, engines secured, but its mostly passed we think. Everything is still quiet. No mail yet. We’re just waiting and don’t know what to expect. F.D.R. won election again. I’m glad. News continues good. Following old routine.
Had a little target practice with a 30 ca. carbine army rifle this afternoon. Enjoyed it. Tonite the officers played poker--6 of us--Won one nickel. 15 cent limit. 9:30 P.M. now, & going to bed
11/11/44--Think yesterday was Mother’s & Dad’s Wedding Anniversary, but not too sure. Mother & Alyce have a Birthday this mo. 17 & 27 I think.
Went out 50 miles to a net tender yesterday for 1 wounded man. Fractured pelvis--fell through a hatch. Planes have left us alone. They still come over the beach once in awhile. Fighting still goes on for the troops tho. No mail as yet, boat isn’t back for this date yet tho. Everyone is “touchy” and mail would help a lot. We’re very lucky just the same, but its hard for these guys to realize that.
11/12/44--The PT Boat (Torpedo) 495 usually ties up to our stern. Their skipper & ours were old friends before the war. About 6 P.M. We got a message to proceed to Red Beach for wounded. I rode on the Torpedo Boat just for the ride on one. While enroute the Japs came over--2 were shot down, a P-38 got another. All three came down in flames. It was cloudy, so think the 4th got away. Left our Starboard propeller to be straightened on a repair ship. Operate with one Engine. Played checkers tonite.
11/13/44--More planes over today. One dove right into the Bridge of a liberty ship about 1000 yards from us. Killed all on the Bridge and wounded others. An LST was bombed. It was full of soldiers. Goodness knows how many killed. She is still burning. But the smoke is thinning out. Tugs went alongside to give her a hand. We were alongside an ammunition ship at this time. Boy, you talk about hurrying. We really got away from that thing fast. If they ever set her afire--God!
11/14/44--Up nearly all nite last nite. Little firing though. Of course we’re full of wounded yet. Had just gone to bed at 4:30 A.M. & at 6:10 they came again. Four were shot down. P-38’s were busy too. They got several. I saw a 38 get one; gee, how pretty & fast they are. As the Jap fell, smoke rolling out of his engine. We could see the pilot. Saw him push back the overhead enclosure. He tried to stay up long enough to dive into a supply ship, but didn’t make it. His right wing hit first. Threw him clear; looked like he was shot out of a cannon. Guess we’ll have another one floating around in a few days. Their planes are just no match for ours, and they are using their famous sucide [sic] tactics.
11/17/44--It has been quiet the last few days. They (Jap planes) came over the beach yesterday but didn’t try for any ships. Our air power is getting stronger & stronger while theirs is weakening.
No mail as yet, it’s to the point we don’t expect it anymore, so when it does get here it’ll surprise everyone. Morale of the crew continues to be high though. Pay day yesterday. I didn’t draw mine, couldn’t get rid of it. No money orders for sale & to send cash from here is too dangerous. Took on water. Put our screw on an L.S.T. repair ship; hope they can do something for it. Meantime we operate with only one engine. Bawled my division out this morning. Bless their hearts!
Sat. Nov. 18--Our ships & P-38s got 6 Jap planes this morning. One came over us, we poured lead into him, but he succeeded in diving into a Liberty Ship anchored about 500 yards off our port bow. We fired at another which dove into an L.S.T. Another just missed a Destroyer. It’s mast tore his wing off, but he hit the water. More dead & wounded. We took on all we could. Some are so terribly burned. There were fifteen in all. P38s got 3 in sights & they disappeared over the mountains. At the rate they shoot them down, guess we got several more. Had some Army wounded aboard yesterday. Put them on a large Hospital Ship--PH3--guess they’ve gone back now. It was part of what was left of a company of 200 that tried for a Jap held hill over there, only 40 returned. MCAuthor’s [sic] daily report is true, we do continue forward, but God! At what a price! It isn’t nearly so easy as they’re making the civilians back home believe. They let us tell a few things now, but our own losses must be left out. These Sucide (sic) tactics can’t be told yet. No mention of any numbers of dead or wounded.
Bet you couldn’t tell by reading any news back there that we’ve “handled” ship load after ship load of dead and wounded. Just us, much less many other ships doing the same. It’ll be a month day after tomorrow since the first landing, & we haven’t completely taken just Leyte yet. That should tell the people at least something.
Sun. Nov. 19th--This morning’s news from McAuthor [sic] says 3 Jap planes came down in the shipping area. 2 of them dove into ships. Guess we’ll read the same tomorrow because they dove into 3 more ships this morning. 2 Liberties & 1 tug. We went alongside a Liberty right after, gave help again. The Jap was burned to a crisp. Killed about six, burned 4 bad. Hit the stack & glanced off. When we pulled off we ran aground! What a jar it was & I thought we were hit again. Tug pulled us off. Sound gear (for locating Subs underwater) is ruined. Propeller only nicked. Bottom dented several places but not ripped open--heck! We won’t go to a Navy yard soon. The 851 took our wounded. We’re alongside tug yet, 11P.M. Being fixed up & they’re putting on our Port screw. Hear some ships brought mail today; hope it isn’t all for the Army as usual. This tug got mail a few days ago, their first since July! God, I hope we don’t have to wait four months!
Mon. 20--It’s been raining all day & night. Peace from the Japs. Trouble putting our screw nut on. Gave out of water; first chance I’ve had to test the evaps good with that steam line added. They’re putting out over full capacity. Hope the peace continues. No wounded aboard, things seem normal as old days, yet seem wrong. None of the 700 bags of mail today was for us! Feel good. Today one month ago we hit this place. I looked it up. To date we have survived 178 air attacks. Seems unbelievable.
Thurs. Nov. 23rd--F.D.R.’s Thanksgiving. At Sea. Left Leyte yesterday about 5:30 P.M. None of us got much sleep last night. Expecting attack any time. Ships been catching hell in this area coming & going. Our screw still giving us trouble. Going back to Manus—Admirality (sic) Islands to try & get it fixed up. Divers couldn’t. A floating dry dock there. Passed large convoy going to Leyte. Bet our mail is with it. Boy that would be a crime. Sea pretty choppy. We roll heavily. 8 P.M. now. All is well.
Oh yes, yesterday we got a message from PT 495 Quote: “Hit hard. Frank & Badger O.K. Going back for deserved rest.” This is the same P.T. I took the ride on & ‘Frank’ is the Captain’s friend from old days. Don’t know how many of the crew was lost. Those P.T.s have taken a beating out here. Don’t know where they’re going “back” to either.
DEC 20, 1944--Back at Leyte! Pulled in to the day two months ago today, too! Nearly the same hour. Didn’t write while going down to Manus. Nice trip, no enemy trouble & our nerves settled right away. Got a new Port Propeller put on. Painted the bottom, overhauled the Sea Suctions in a floating dry dock. The cruiser Honolulu was there. They got 43 more dead out of her. Two days before we arrived an ammunition ship blew up (& told) when the smoke cleared, there was nothing left to show there ever was a ship there. Bodies & parts floated around regular. They cleaned ‘em out. Then back up. Stopped at Palu for 24 hrs. Picked up a ship full of high test aviation gasoline & convoyed her up. Boy, they are dangerous. Arrived early this morning. Quite a few ships in. Mail (by the way, I got mail in Manus) was waiting. Got 10 letters. Guess this was our Christmas, no telling when more will come. Been reading mail all day. 5 from Jean, 2 from Rheba, one from Alyce, Dad & Rene. Read them over & over & the snap of N.T. holding Beverly is next to heaven.
Then, at dusk, the Japs came. Surprised us. Ran out to see if the guns were manned, if not to man one myself. We were not at General Quarters. Every gun opened up & just poured steel into him. He had started a sucide (sic) dive on our water ship. (My evaporators are torn down for cleaning, so I’m damn glad they got the darn thing.) He just exploded & parts flew all directions. I was right in the middle of a long letter to Jean. Finished now, and back at war. The rest we had did lots of good.
The PCE (R) 851 took a hit in her bow the other day. 3 inch shell. They’ve been up at Manados. Their crew is about cracked. Their Doctor has a nervous breakdown now. I didn’t go over. Our Skipper says they’re all in bad shape. They’re going to Manus for rest.
More news of the PT 495 too. Frank & Badger are O.K. but both wounded. Frank has gone back to the States. Crippled in ankle, very bad, maybe for life. Badger got it in the arm, he is on a big hospital ship. Expects to go back. Two of the crew are dead. All wounded. Some slight, some bad--Scrapnel [sic].
We transferred Chief Boats Underwood as “not dependable in more battle.” We are on Harbor rescue duty now. Let time fill any expectations.
Dec. 24--There has been no serious trouble since we arrived. The only wounded we’ve had aboard came from the beach. They had already been fixed up.
It’s Christmas Eve. Doing nothing much. Holiday Routine, besides, it’s Sunday.
11:30 P.M. We’ve had our Christmas. Served grape juice & cake tonight. The wardroom table was stacked with presents. We lighted candles to give the atmosphere. Presents consisted of candy, cake, gum, socks, handkerchiefs, gum drops, even cigarettes & Marshmellows [sic] (1 box) canned stuff--coco [sic]--juices, etc. Books too. Only the Skipper, Mr. Gus, Eby, Otis, Loeltz & McConnel had any gifts. The rest of ours haven’t come. I have a fruit cake Mo Mo. (bet it’s ruined), a box of pecans from Gene & Vesta and my Jean’s present somewhere in the mail. Japs bothered us for two hours tonight.
Dec. 25--Turkey & all ‘trimmins.’ Boy, what a feast! Slept this P.M. With a full tummy. Handled wounded all morn. About 50 of them. Burned by sucide (sic) dive Jap planes into the ships. Some of them were really horrible. I don’t think I could ever go back home with a face like some of these fellows are going to be left with. Some completely blind too. Maybe it’s a good thing they are. I don’t know.
Dec. 26, 44--Transferred wounded to hospital ship “Refuge,” getting back in old routine. Japs bombed our air strip tonite, about ½ mile from us. Every night at dusk they come. Dove on no ships. One of our planes couldn’t land today after returning from a “mission.: Twin motor bomber. The pilot & crew jumped out & she crashed into the bay. Landing gear & part of tail shot away. Lucky to get back!
Jan.9, 1945--Had a big feed for New Year’s --every day it was the same far as the war goes. On Jan. 3rd we left Leyte early in the morning. Sailed out to sea with 4 L.S.T.s & joined a big convoy. Sailed back in, through the Straits into the Sulu Sea. Came between Negras & Mindino, on up coast of of Negras to the left of Mindoro into the China Sea. The night of the 6th as we passed Manila Bay a Jap Destroyer attacked us. Our cans made short order of it. Three big explosions & no more to it. Jap planes have come over too, but no ship was hit until the 7th. One dove into the side of one of our CVE’s (Plane Carriers). We started the invasion of Luzon yesterday. Much the same as Leyte. Terrific firing into the beach. No opposition, which really surprised us. What a relief too, as we didn’t know what to expect & felt this might be our last day on earth. Were we fooled! Have landed troops & established a beachhead. Sucide (sic) planes tried. They dove into the Battleship California, Cruiser Columbia and an Auzzie cruiser yesterday. Last nite Jap Torpedo boats & 2 man subs tried. Sunk lots of barges. From where they came I don’t know. We fired on & hit a 2 engine Bomber about 2 hours ago. He just missed us with two bombs. They didn’t explode but splashed water on the ship. Firing & fighting going on, on the beach at the moment. Up all night nearly. Will sleep now. It’s 10 A.M.
It’s 9:30 P.M. Now. We went alongside the Battleship Calif. & took her wounded. 48 were killed--60 odd wounded & burned. Got some from the Kobie & Long--Mine sweepers that went down. Over 100 aboard now. No bunk space for lots. They look pitiful huddled in corners looking and watching for something they know not what. We had trouble getting them below. So afraid, but you can’t blame them.
Just as I thought. The big boys & many transports & LSTs have gone, left at dusk. We little guys left here now. We just hope they don’t dive on us. The Mississippi & New Mexico have also taken hits. Hear the Army is moving on in--ten miles now. Casualties light.
We just had General Quarters. They got through but dove on no ships. Will make stab at some rest now, but don’t expect it to last long.
Jan. 11--We have been at General Quarters most of the time. Planes over often--dropping bombs. Scrapnel [sic] has fallen on our decks. It’s nasty looking steel; one piece about 8 inches long, 2 inches wide, edges sharp as a razor. No wonder wounds from it are so horrid. Tonight (about 10 o’clock) a Jap Torpedo boat got one of our transports. Too they are putting mines & explosives in boxes & floating them out. Several smaller craft have been hit so far. The soldiers are still making headway. But fighting is heavier now it seems.
“I have returned” (McAuthor [sic]) came today we hear. Hope he doesn’t order the Navy out & fluff up the details like Leyte & cause heavier casualties. Very tired. There are bodies floating around, either our sailors or Japs, I don’t know. Have headache from heavy smoke screen. We all do--breathe it several hours--so thick you can’t see a foot sometime. Heat rash under arms & between legs.
War is Hell I heard somewhere.
Jan. 15--A Jap plane dove into the Liberty Ship Otis Skinner. She was burning pretty bad when we went alongside for dead & wounded. Fire under control it seemed. The BB Colorado came back in. Sucide [sic] Dive crippled her. They got another four stacker Destroyer too. They’ll scrap her. We took the entire crew that was left. We’re empty now. Transferred all to the PH-3.
Jan. 27--Sat: Been patrolling the mouth of the Gulf. No planes dangerously close lately. Saw a captured Jap sub towed by yesterday. Pulled in floating dead American soldier--identified as Eugene Hazzard, several days ago. Clark air field has been taken. Troops 20 miles from Manila Bay. News continues good. No mail--Coming in--hope it brought some. Been Dec. 12 since Jean’s latest letter. Cooler at night here. My “rash” has nearly gone. Many of our planes now in the air constantly. All kinds. Our screw was hit yesterday by some floating object, probably log or timber. No damage tho.
Feb. & March:
Think on the 28th of Jan. We left Lingayen Gulf, sailed with small convoy back to Leyte. Took 6 days. Very slow traveling, same route that we went up. Had no trouble at all. Stopped at Leyte only a few hours, just long enough to send a mail boat over. It brought me my Christmas present from Jean. A wedding ring, and I love it. Got very few letters though. Never did receive any Christmas present from anyone else. Had candy, pecans, cake, etc. Sent, but it didn’t make it.
We pulled on down to Ulithi, West Caroline Island for rest and overhaul. Arrived Feb. 10th. Recreation on a small island, and it is wonderful.
Baldasarre walked out of the engine room, left auxiliary machinery running--got a Summary court Martial. Fahik was sentenced to 12 days confinement for refusing to help bring stores aboard, & back talking to McCoy, my 1/c electrician.
Several days ago the Nestor lost 9 men when her launch while bringing back liberty party sunk in choppy water. PC lost her Executive Officer & a Seaman, found all but 1 body
We were alongside the Nestor for repairs lately, & a guy named, rather called, Chicko gave us lots of main Engine filters & helped on our Evaps. He drowned.
Dobson threw two urinals over the side. (Things the crew takes a piss in.) Got a deck court martial. Our Handy Billy pump is missing--probably over the side. (It’s used for fighting fire.) The crew is restricted until we find out what became of it. Somebody knows.
Thirl has been transferred for walking in his sleep--always did--& he was getting worse. Sugg over having appendix removed. I had a tooth pulled.
Fleet is pulling in all the time from Toyko [sic] raid. See 10 carriers--Battle Ships & Cruisers everywhere. Cans, DE’s, etc. Plenty.
Our Captain’s trial for running around in Leyte Gulf ended today. I had to testify yesterday about everything I did on Nov. 19--from the time I got up until 24 hours after going aground. We won’t know his verdict for a while yet--hope they don’t take the command away from him.
McDowell & Beonconi--2 Seaman--were caught in the whaleboat the other night having sexual relations. Will probably get D.D. Or Undesirable discharges. Boy--What has come over this crew is beyond me. My gang hasn’t caused any trouble so far. Guess I work them so hard during this overhaul to keep them crapped out. Have movies topside when it doesn’t rain.
By the way--It is March 7. Tomorrow 5 years ago Jean & I married. Wish I was with her! We’ll be here until March 21, at least.
13 March; Two Jap planes sneaked in last nite while we were having a movie. They both sucide [sic] dived, one into the place carrier “Randolf”: the other into a CB mess hall on the beach. The carrier is damaged bad. Very few men killed or wounded. The whole sky lighted up in a flash, & she burned pretty badly for about two hours. No more movies top side!
21 March: Well, our overhaul period is over now. Guess we will hang around for another week or so. Usual routine & work.
Marines invaded Iwo Jima, North of here. Lost 4,150 dead. Boy it must have been a bloody battle! The Tuscaloosa helped Bombard it.
26 March: Everything is all set for the big job. Many ships in. We’re full of fuel, water & supplies, will leave sometime tomorrow. We will hit the Island of Okinawah [sic], or spelled something like that. It’s located between Luzon & Japan.
More directly, between Formosa & Japan--360 miles South West of Japan Proper, 370 from Tokyo, about 450 from here. Will attack Easter Sunday morning, April 1st.
Monday night: April 2nd, 1945: Boy it was a rough sea coming up. Had to hold on all the time--nearly throw you out of your bunk at night. Rained almost constantly, high winds. Made speed of about 12 knots. We were with the transport ship group, & I bet those soldiers & marines thought they would die of sea sickness! Many of our own crew heaved everywhere. Even felt woozy myself the first couple of days, but didn’t miss a meal. Ate alone once. No one felt really good. We had been laying in port so long, had to get used to it again.
All day March 31st it was choppy. We all went to bed early as possible. At two A.M. all manned our Battle Stations, easing around the Southern tip of the Island. Nothing happened. At daybreak—very, very beautiful--clear sky and smooth sea. Perfect weather, the great Bombardment & pounding started. Battleships, Cruisers, Cans, shelled the Beach. Bombers from Philippines, Formosa & Carriers came over in droves. Seemed the world constantly trembled all morning. We hung back with the transports. About 9 I came up & saw two of our planes come down in flames. Our troops went in then, everything as per schedule. Very little few Jap planes came over. We were secured from General Quarters at noon!
All afternoon they shelled the beach. More troops moved in, sky full of planes, but Newsom T., Jr. slept through it all.
After sunset, just before dark, a few Jap planes came over, one dove into the port side of the Battleship West Virginia, our planes got the others.
At midnight we had a fairly heavy raid. An AM was straffed badly about ½ mile from us & at about two we went alongside. Only a few wounded, one dead. They bothered this area the rest of the night. About 8 this morning we joined the inner screen Submarine patrol. It’s 9 P.M. Now, we are laying to--just secured from General Quarters. News from the beach--casualties light, troops moving ahead, 2 air fields under our control.
So far, the only time our ship has opened fire was on a floating pontoon, sunk it, so no ship would get it in her screws! But believe me, that’s OK with us. Oh yes, 3 bombs fell about one hundred yards from us this morning about 6 o’clock. From very high altitude bombing. Plunk, Plunk, Plunk, but no damage to anyone. We can’t anchor. Water is over 300 fathoms deep (about 1000 feet). When stopped, our engines idle.
Well, Well--Easter has gone. Guess Jean wore her new “yellow outfit.” Last Easter I was home. N.T. Had a grand Easter Egg hunt!--The one before, Jean & I were in Miami. Remember the flowers, Jean? Remember the “Niso” Boat trip, & the ‘Big Shot’s’ homes? --Even Scarface Al Capone’s? Gee, this one was more like a Fourth of July & a Parish fair.
We have no night air fighters here yet & we expect most of our trouble at night, so will go to bed now, for how long, I don’t know. But we all feel good, had plenty rest, & hope it keeps up. Oh yes, I must add the news I heard via radio from tokyo [sic]. They played a couple of fast American swing records, I don’t remember the names. But the announcer says “We must conclude our program now. Hope you Americans have enjoyed it because it’s the last you’ll ever hear. We’ll be back on the air tomorrow at this same time, but you’ll all be dead, so So Long”!
We can cut the radio most any time & hear such as that. Boy you should hear “Tokyo Rose” sometime--she sinks our fleet about every week. Been hearing it over six months now, so kinda used to it.
Tuesday nite: 9:P.M. April 3, 1945. General Quarters from one to nine o’clock this morning. Had a big raid at the ‘Northern Point,’ we steamed full speed to lend assistance to the wounded. The extent of all damage I do not know, but we had all we could possibly handle in a short while. Ships strafed, bombed & suicide dived.
We took all the Survivors from the APD 21, and pulled off a couple of hundred yards. A twin motored Jap Betty dove into her bridge & 3 in. gun. Killed the Skipper, a Lt. Commander, her executive officers & 2 Lt. J.G.’s, the whole gun crew, signalmen, radiomen, etc. This afternoon I got permission to go aboard her for salvage of as many tools, etc. I could get before she sunk or was salvaged. She had a very heavy list to port & slowly settling down. Had the boat make two trips--got all the wrenches we can use for a year, a chock for the lathe, ice cream machine, phone headsets, electric drills, bearings, electrical testing instruments, cots, wire, coils, welding hose & material, rods, stack, etc. etc.--the best supply ship I’d ever been on, just pick up what all I needed. Got 150 lbs. freon for ice machines, valves, sockets. The only bad thing about it was the store rooms were all forward & I had to pass through a compartment several times that had about ten dead men--just cooked. All the top side was littered with human parts. That gun crew was stacked on each other, clothes all burned off, naked and swollen as could be.
It was a ticklish job to find that machine shop--three decks down--all dark, ship leaning over so far, had to hold on to walk. Water nearly to my knees. Got back aboard about four P.M. tired, & glad I was back. Bathed, ate supper, got underway for our “area zebra,” put casualties on a hospital ship--General Quarters twice since, and now I shall hit my bunk. Been up twenty hours.
Before I go, must say a word about the scenic beauty of the various islands. Sheer steep cliffs to the waters edge. On the mountain sides is rice fields hedged out, like you’ve seen in pictures. Caves, natural, dug by water, clear blue sea, breakers rolling in constantly pounding her. In the valleys, pretty & green where our rockets & bombardment didn’t hit.--Two hours later, 11:10--another General Quarters--guess they’ll keep us up all nite. Several hundred civilians have committed suicide!
The doctor has me secure my evaporators when we pull in close at various points. Water is bad. A city of a half million Japs & only 3 ½ miles of sewage system. They don’t use toilets. Crap in the back yard & when they get a pretty good size pile they sell it to the farmers for fertilize [sic]. Of course I haven’t investigated this, only heresay [sic], but true. They do it in China too.
Well, Good Night!
Wednesday nite: April 4, 45. General Quarters at three this morning. We stayed in readiness condition. Had to get underway at 12 o'clock & go about 30 miles out & escort the U.S.S. Wake Island in. She is a plane carrier & took a hit last night. The reason they sent us is because we have such good sound equipment, & are good against submarine attack. Ran at full & flank speed all the time. Got back safely with her at seven this morning. We spent three hours looking for an AOG tanker. Finally found her, & took on 15,000 gallons of diesel fuel oil, 500 gals. lube oil. We anchored close to the beach about 2 P.M. I watched the war go on through powerful glasses nearly all afternoon. Our Troops are all the way across the Island now & are driving South. I watched the Tuscaloosa lay off & belch her eight inch shells into pill boxes for an hour. Saw some very large tanks make a drive for over a mile. Boy, they really layed down the lead & steel! Troops followed in their wake. Winding dirt roads over the hills are heavy with traffic--our trucks carrying supplies in.
Boy! I’m glad I’m a Sailor!
The wind is high tonite, rainy & stormy--we roll back & forth. Hope, in a way, it lasts all nite. Might keep their (Jap) planes grounded & give us a nite’s rest. We are all getting rather tired, but I feel very good.
Sat. Nite: April 7, 1945
One month to date since hearing from Jean. Wonder when mail will come or go!
The war is really on in good progress now. Nearly all day Thurs. & Thurs. nite we were at general quarters. About 3 A.M. Fri. Morn we got word to stand by for mass plane attack sometime Friday (Interrupted by G. Q. It’s 10 P.M. now).
In sight of the ship yesterday 11 planes came down. One our own, four suicide dives. We have been busy as a flying ant running around giving assistance where ever possible. We got word at 6 P.M. Last night to rush to the Northern end of the inner screen to lend assistance to damaged ships. It was really a very dangerous mission, many reefs, and we had to pass through a mine field that we didn’t know too much about. Just as we made it through, about 9 P.M., dark as pitch, breathing a sigh of relief--Three of our own destroyers closed in on us before we could identify ourselves. Our Skipper was just screaming for them to hold their fire--over the S.C.R. (radio speaker system.) Six--AM Mine sweepers had been crash dived. Four were able to go in on their own power, 2 had been abandoned & sunk by the “cans” to prevent menace to navigation. We didn’t dare put a light on to save any that might be in the water as a Jap air field was only three miles away. The “cans” were to pick them up at daybreak. Boy, I’d hate to spend the nite floating with a life jacket! Up all nite. At daylight this morning fog was so thick you couldn’t see fifty yards. We were still out & could hear the Jap planes drone overhead just waiting for something to dive into. Eight destroyers & a PC caught it. Our casualties (Navy) are much heavier than the army since the operation began Easter Morning. We still act as a taxi for dead & wounded. Japan is only 345 miles from here. Tokyo--375. We have no news. In fact, those of you back home really know more about how this operation on the whole is coming than we do. Strange, huh?
Sunday, April 8th (yesterday) We got orders to proceed to the Eastern side of the Island for casualties. It is about a 50 mile trip around. Went at full speed & arrived about 3 P.M. Took about seventy-five wounded & two dead from an AGC. They (the ships) were shelling the beach with five inch shells. Pill boxes, caves, etc. Nice to watch. One thing that strikes me is how cheap a human life has become to us! Like last nite & Evening, we put the two dead on the fantail--out there alone--& it kinda rained for awhile--just left ‘em in the rain. Had fun with our Negro steward mates. They really don’t like this kind of duty & we have no trouble keeping them out of the way. Such remarks to them as “Go out there & put blankets around ‘em and keep them warm;” just for the laugh over the answer you’re sure to get from them. That’s about the only fun or laughs we get, & guess you are thinking that's a hell of a way to have fun. All Marines. They were part of the first raiders here. They gave us such tales as--the natives (some of them) killed their wives & children at first. The Japs had told them we would rape all women & eat their children & they believed it. Now they are finding out different and are surrendering by the thousands, leading our troops to the Japs, even begging for arms to fight them. They are becoming a big help, as a result our casualties remain very light.
Day before yesterday Task force 58 sunk a 45,000 ton Jap Battlewagon, Three cruisers, 3 cans & damaged at least 6 others along the China Coast. Comes to find out from ½ to ¾ of the Jap Army is in China. Japan is frantic trying to get them back, & our ships are inflicting heavy damage to them.
We came back to the West side last nite, but had to anchor out. Can't come through the Submarine nets after dark. We’re in now. Nearly the same anchorage as that APD-21 was--(the one hit that I went aboard). She isn’t here anymore. Don’t know if she finally sank, or not. We are preparing to unload our wounded. Oh yes, One Marine officer is shot in the rear with scrapnel [sic]--has 16 holes in him and none very serious as a result even he makes a joke out of it. He sure won’t sit down for a long time.
9 P.M. Monday 9th--Wrote the above this morning. It’s been a quiet day & I took advantage of it, slept all afternoon. At 5:45 this evening we got underway again (got rid of all our casualties & dead about noon)--This time we will invade the island on the East Side--exactly where we came from yesterday & cans shelling. Just secured from General Quarters. “Condition Red,” but no enemy near us. Steaming along peacefully now. Expect to attack at dawn.
Tuesday Nite April 10th 1945
As per schedule the bombardment started this morning at 0630. About eight we figured the Island was softened up, so our army troops started in for the beach in small boats. About half way in, Jap mortar fire opened up on them, also hit an LST. Casualties were very light however, only have about a dozen aboard now. A funny thing how those Japs just dig in. Our tanks went on ashore, roamed all over the island. Suddenly from some small hole out of thousands in the side of a hill, they will open up. These have been silenced now, troops ashore, raining to beat h---, high wind and pretty cold outside. I don’t envy any of them!
The nearest we came of being hit today was about 20 yards off the bow, dead ahead. Had a couple of subs try to sneak in also, but destroyers took care of them; depth charges fairly rained. Several mine were exploded also, with gunfire. They really make a big explosion.
Much shelling of neighboring islands has been going on today also. Three battle wagons on the horizon been laying them down all day.
Well, as usual, our “fresh” provisions have all gone now. No eggs, cabbage, etc. Still a few crates of spuds though. Mr. Eby, the supply officer, says they’re due in about the 25th or 30th--half a month yet!
Wish I could hear from Jean, or most important, get a letter off letting her know everything is O.K. No use to write yet tho, it would get stale right here. Besides, I have so very little to say at times like this. Can’t tell her anything except and I miss and love her so, but she knows that by heart.
Bet I sleep all nite! So long.
Friday 13th of April 1945.
Another good luck day! To go back to Wednesday--The Island is secure now. Left one Co. of troops ashore. Had a heavy air attack about 1 A.M. Up nearly all nite. Ships layed a heavy smoke screen which covered us as well. One crash dived on LST.
We came back to this side Wed., Ray Malott busy operating all day & giving blood plasma. Got some rest in the afternoon. Put the casualties off about 5 P.M. Around eight the alert sounded, we manned battle stations until after midnight, then went to semi G.Q.--the northern area had a pretty heavy raid.
Thursday the 12 th started out to be a fine day. I got to bed about 3 A.M. Until 5 A.M.--2 hrs. Then went to G.Q. Again. Back to bed about eight until noon. We came to the main anchorage about 2 P.M.--& when we arrived at five, General Quarters sounded again until seven. We got orders then to proceed 50 miles North & give assistance to at least three LCS gunboats (they are converted L.C. I.’s). Of course we didn’t like that because that’s such a graveyard area. Same place and above where we were several nites ago & nearly got shot by our own cans. Anyway, we met two of our destroyers crippling in--#793 & I forget the other, but both new, modern destroyers. They had been sucide (sic) dived. Jap twin Engine Betty type plane. Heavy damage to both of them. They signaled us their casualties were numerous, but for us to proceed on to the other ships, they could make it on in. Of course we did, and ran smack into a hornet’s nest at 10:30 last night. Four had been crashed dived, 3 of them could still make full speed so they headed in fast as they could go. We stayed with the worst one to help her get back. She had shot down four, and three had crash dived her. We could hear the Japs flying all around--no moon--dark as it could be. Suddenly one dropped a cluster of flares. Lighted up the ocean like a Christmas tree & there we sat like a duck in the middle of it. We couldn’t see above the flare. (I was on the top side on the boat deck.) We all heard him (the Jap) when he started his dive, getting louder & louder. I don't know my thoughts during the next few seconds, except “This is it.” The captain ordered a hard left rudder and swung ship a little (we were making full speed), he was coming down too fast to swing with us. Of course all guns opened up on him the few seconds he was in the light, but if it had any affect we couldn’t tell. He missed us by about twenty feet. A few seconds later we heard another. He was just in his dive good when the flare went out. Of course he lost sight of us & pulled out of the dive and his motors were like thunder in my ears as he passed over us. They dropped no more flares. Why, or why he didn’t come back I don’t know. Anyway, at five A.M. we safely pulled in with the Gunboat. Some dead, & missing. Doc is working now with the wounded. How that ship stayed afloat I don’t know. I just fell on my bunk at six this morning & wasn’t called ‘til noon.
It was then we heard President Roosevelt died yesterday afternoon of a brain hemorrhage.
2 P.M. now and I feel pretty good. We’re all still “serious faced” over our “Good Luck” last nite, & sad news today.
It’s nearly 11 P.M. Now, I’ve manned my battle station twice since I started writing this. We did not open fire. Smoke screen in heavy, been so for hours. Throat dry, head aches & tired.
Ten days later: 24 April, 1945.
We have been so busy day and night that every possible minute we could spare went for rest & sleep. Our forces are still deadlocked here. We (the Navy) have been taking an awful beating from the Jap Sucide [sic] Plane dives. Seventy two ships have been hit to date, fifteen have gone down! Our casualties have been heavy. Another new Destroyer #724 took two dives into her. One plane dropped a torpedo at us several nights ago--missed by only a few feet. We were making only 1/3 speed, & he figured us for faster. Twenty-one Jap planes shot down day before yesterday in our area. We have lots of fighter planes in the air now that we captured several air fields. Ernie Pyle the news correspondent was killed about a mile from us on the beach of I E Shima. Boy, we’ve really been knocking at Tojo’s back door.
It is no need to go into detail as our duties already are clear. Every ship that we could possibly reach that was hit, we went alongside for dead & wounded It is like a human butcher shop.
We hear the Russians are in Berlin. Bitterest fighting in the history of the world gong on. What a slaughter of women & children must be taking place there! Don’t guess anyone is sorry but the Germans though.
Even now (8 P.M.) I can hear the booming of guns, & our ships are also firing. Our “all out” push of the 19th gained only 800 yards. I do not know the results of Army casualties, but ours are near four thousand.
We came in today for fuel & lub oil & work on Gyro Compass. Probably take on supplies tomorrow. We are on “K rations.” Mostly stew--and of course we all hate it, but when hungry you’ll eat it. Expect to get all nite in tonite, and I’m not going to waste it, so Good-Nite.
Thurs. Nite, April 26th--
Things have quieted down for us. Saw my first B-29 in flight yesterday. Lots of them came in, also P-38 fighters. From 2:30 to 4:30 this A.M. we were on battle stations but 12 miles is the nearest any enemy plane came to us. We’re patrolling off I E Shima. Now, hope to pull in tomorrow for supplies. Too, we expect mail. My last news from home is still March 7th.
Our forces have finally broken through in the Southern Sector & advancing slowly. No ships hit in last few days. Hope it continues quiet. Getting plenty of sleep & rest. Guess we’ll be around here awhile.
May 3, 1945
April 27 we got mail. Received four letters from Jean & one from L.S.U. Took on supplies all day & 2,000 gals. of water. Spoke too soon about sleep & rest though because at 4 P. M. We were ordered back out on patrol, & to stand by for torpedo planes & Sucide (sic) dives that night, & several nights after. Its been one roaring hell since, just about. Especially at night. Full moon & we have very few night fighters here as yet. (April 27th, Daddy’s Birthday--) At about ten P.M. the Destroyer Talbot, # 390 ((Sister ship to 399, Lang, that escorted us on Presidential cruise with Roosevelt in 1940 & I rode her into Pensacola, Fla., came home & got married. She, the U.S.S. Lang, is here too.)) Took two crash dives. We ran over alongside. One clipped her bridge, its wing clipped five men’s legs off & wounded 3 others. She went on over into the water. The other hit her Starboard Quarter, hurt no one, but damaged the ship. She was losing fuel fast. Dr. Malott & crew of corpsmen went aboard. One man had died, another dying, and he lost two more because he didn't have necessary equipment. Saved the other four. Of course, as soon as they got aboard, we pulled away from her, escorted her in, went back out. Gave assistance to an A.M. about three in the morning. Seven ships hit that night. We came in the 28th & picked up the Doc; 29th & 30th nights were much the same. The weather turned in our favor then, rainy & cloudy. Its been rather peaceful since until tonite. Clear as a bell, but the wind is high. Had General Quarters twice already, but have not sighted the enemy.
President Truman officially announced Hitler is dead. Germans on Italian Front gave up. Guess Clarence will be home for good soon. He sure rates a break.
We came in this morning to I E Shima for Radar repair--until tomorrow. We’ve anchored real close to beach. Right at Beachhead. Can see where soldiers, plus Ernie Pyle is buried. Landscape very pretty. Even horses and cattle grazing in green fields. Snipers still awful here we hear. The huge cave mouths where the Japs had gun emplacements is a sight to see. Blown to heck. Saw civilians come to the beach for mass wash day. They even bathe together in hugh (sic) bunches.
Got Mail off the ship today. Jean won’t hear from me for Mother’s Day. Neither will Mother.
May 5th Sat: 12:30 P.M.
We went to General Quarters about 3 o'clock yesterday (May 4) morning. About five we rece’d word a Destroyer was hit, about 23 miles north of us. Of course, we lifted the hook & started out. At the crack of dawn more Japs came, but so did our planes. At one time I counted seventeen Jap planes. Our Corsairs engaged them & dog fight lasted about thirty minutes. Not one single American plane went down to my knowledge. Saw ten Japs hit the water. The others crash dived our patrol ships. One hit the Destroyer U.S.S. Lucy, #522 in her torpedo tubes. She sunk in from seven to ten minutes. Two others went down, an A.M. And a four stacker. A D.M.S. hit hard. The sea looked full of men floating in life jackets. We picked up all of course. Ships loaded--all decks crowded.
Peterson, Coxswain, from New Orleans, sighted someone else, way out, floating & waving (through powerful glasses). We put all passengers below, sick bay, mess halls, compartments, all full. Couldn’t leave them on top side as Japs were still around and a good strafing would have been like mass murder. One Jap Betty came close, & our three inch gun crew got him.
This lone guy turned out to be a Jap pilot! It not being so necessary for me to be on my battle station (Engine Room) at this time, I took over the job of getting him aboard. Threw a life ring out, pulled him alongside and made him undress completely while still in the water. Tying his clothes to another line & hoisting them aboard for check of any hand grenade or weapons. Then put a ladder over for him to climb up. Of course all this time I had my forty-five pistol pointed, cocked, right at his head. When he pulled himself aboard naked, my gun was right in his gut. Boy, he was shaking! Cold & scared, but he had reason to be. I spun him around, (even looked between his legs--they love to kill themselves if they can kill you with them.). Marched him up on the forecastle & sat right in front of him--five feet away--all the way back into port.
He begged for water and when I handed it to him or give him a cigarette, he bowed to me like I was the Emperor of Japan!
After we secured from G.Q. & was pulling into port (Okinawa) the passengers (some of them) came up & just begged & pleaded for me to shoot the bastard. Turned him over to Naval Intelligence for questioning.
Transferred all our passengers & wounded [two had died].
Sent for our mail. Seven bags of it! I got 23 letters, dated back to Nov. 29, 1944 to April 14th. Eleven from Jean dated back from Jan. 3rd from Natchitoches while visiting Gene & Vesta.
Then out again: 55 miles North to a ship (can) that got a near miss with a 500 lb. personnel bomb. About five seriously wounded. Finally just fell on my bunk at 4:40 this morning & slept until 11:15. Have had dinner & feel pretty good now. Have read my mail fast, but for the next several days I’ll read & read it & absorb every word. Everything is fine back home as of April 14th. Jean & N.T. Visiting Buddy & Cille. Water high around Melville. It really worries me.
P.S. Mail man just came again. Brought me four from Jean, one from Vi & Rheba. My Jean has to wear glasses now. Bet she is cute.
P.S. We lost five ships sunk today.
Tues. Morn. May 8, 1945
Germany has unconditionally surrendered. Today it will be officially announced. Gee the millions of happy people this date.
The war continues as usual out here. We’ve been at Sea on patrol since the nite of the 4th. No unusual excitement lately, but they have been buzzing around pretty close at nite, especially. Last nite it began to rain (still is) and it was the first “all night in” since I can remember. Gee but I feel good this morning. The quietness of the world leaves me with a “nothing to do” feeling, and I am so very blue. Have just read & read my mail. Gee, but it was wonderful. Have answered most of it now, and hoping to go in soon to get it off--& pick up more! Don’t know when that will be, but our fuel is at 70%, so won’t be very long.
Tuesday 16 May, 1945
Have used every spare moment I could find to write home and letters of application, so have missed over a week. The so called feeling of "nothing to do” didn’t last long. As expected, we went in and fueled, picked up mail. I’ve received mail at every mail call we’ve had. My latest news from home is May 5th. It is coming through very well.
About five thirty or six P.M. About five nites ago, I was on the bridge, watching the Sun Set--a beautiful red ball. Suddenly antiaircraft fire broke loose from ships about half mile from us. Looked up & there for four Jap planes coming in. The Battleship New Mexico was anchored about 500 yards from us. They went for her. One Jap, in his sucide [sic] dive, was hit & burst into flames before he could come down, so fell in the water. The second succeeded in getting through all that firing, & dived into her, midship & stack. Terrific explosion, & flames seemed to cover her. Report, fifty dead, seventy-five missing. Don’t know about the wounded, as a big white hospital ship took over. Think it was the “Mercy.” The other two were shot down before they could do any damage.
Day before yesterday, as we were hoisting our #1 Whaleboat aboard, the cable broke & she fell pack onto the water, hitting the side of the ship & turned bottom side up. The crew had just stepped out. We caught it, & an LST took it over, as we had orders to get underway. Those orders were canceled, tho, & it was too late to get our boat back--besides, a storm coming up.
We rode out the storm during the nite O.K., but next morn we found out our boat had broken loose from the L.S T. Found her about 4 P.M., an LSD had her. They hoisted it aboard for us when we went alongside. Worked all night stripping the engine down to the last part & soaking them in oil before rust could do much damage. Of course, there is parts that had to be renewed. Batteries, starter motor, generator, gaskets, exhaust manifold that bursted, etc. Also the boom to hoist them up with. So, the Captain got permission to come to the Northern Anchorage, Now commonly known as the “Graveyard” because all ships that get hit pull in here for repairs. Got here about 9 A.M. Believe me, the place is a “Graveyard” now. (It’s the same anchorage as the APD I went aboard that was slowly sinking.) Lots of Destroyers, DE’s, LST’s, AM’s look as if they are just floating & that’s all. Of course, this is only temporary repairs, & most of them will go back to the States soon as they can travel.
The Skipper of one happened to be an ex-roomate of McConnel’s, so had no trouble getting the parts they could furnish.
This “can” was #445. She had taken six sucide [sic] dives & shot down eleven Japs several days ago. Hundred & fifty killed. She took two in her Engine room. Bursted (sic) steam lines cooked ten men in there alone. Brought out two while we were there--flesh peeling right off. Of course the smell was awful everywhere. Not that I wish any bad luck, but I hope the next one to “catch it” is a diesel ship--& we’re the first ones to her!! Spare parts are hard to get!
An LST Skipper was aboard us a few days ago. He brought out ninety-six tons of ammunition. Had been in Europe for the last couple of years. Waving his hands around saying--”This is a crazy war out here. Why it isn’t war at all, just plain sucide [sic]!” He is plenty ready to go back already. Says “In Europe, when the flack gets heavy, why the Germans hi-tail it out, but here the damn fools keep coming.” Of course we rather smiled because the guy hadn’t really seen anything. About an hour & a half ago we lifted the “hook” and are on Patrol Station, Standing by for Emergency orders. Had General Quarters for about an hour, three raids, but our fighters got them.
Monday 21 May, 1945!
Early the morning of the 18th we got orders to proceed to port. Before we could anchor, Emergency orders to proceed to Southern End of Island to Harbor of the city of Naha & give assistance to a Destroyer #559 on a reef! That is where the fierce ground fighting is taking place. Our Army & Marines are fighting the Japs in the streets. Here is the way the “can” happened to be on the rocks. She had been shelling the beach all morning with other cans, cruisers & Battle Ships, & pulled in close for better range. Got too close & the Japs fired a few rounds at her but missed. She turned around to run out but struck the rocks hard, and stuck. The Japs rolled about every movable gun closer, & opened up on her. Hit her forward five inch magazine, exploding it. It cut the Destroyer half in two. She was burning fiercely when we arrived. It was a terrible sight, and awful job, but we made a 75% rescue of her crew. I’ll mention only a few of the cases, one boy, still living, had part of his brains out a hole in his head (died soon after I helped pass him aboard.) Another, both legs gone from knees down. An Ensign died of morphine poison, One burned so bad you couldn’t tell his eyes, nose, or mouth by looking. Several had to have arms or legs cut off. Some had been blown clear of the ship, whaleboats picked them up & brought them alongside. Our decks were slippery with blood until we could wash down. The big ships were covering us with heavy fire to the beach--including my old Ship Tuscaloosa. Also Salt Lake City & several Cans.
The Can burned until flames reached her after magazine, then blew to pieces. We were well clear by this time. Seems it shook the earth!
The city itself is shot to heck. Doesn’t look as if there is a single solid building left. We lost nine dead after getting them aboard. Got back to anchorage about 10 P.M. And transferred them to an A.P. Finished about 2 A.M. & slept for several hours.
Had a big air raid yesterday. Four Ships Sucide (sic) dived. A Destroyer DE, AM, & APD. We saved 168 from the A.P.D. Other ships rescued from the others. Took us until four this morn. Put them on another P.A. in Wise Man’s Cove, and came right back out.
At present, we are patrolling & standing by, looking for any that might still be in the water. Sea is quite rough, cloudy and raining. Maybe we’ll get some sleep now. We are all worn out just about. This makes well over a thousand men we have saved!!
Today a year ago--I met Jean at R.R. station, Cleveland, Ohio.
21 June 1945
Odd that a whole month to the date has gone by since I have written any news, but the truth is I got tired of writing about it so much.
It has been a rather hectic month--very much like all the rest. I could not begin to remember all that has happened, and not sure that I want to. Over and Over again I could write: to-nite (sic) the So & So ship took a Sucide (sic) dive, we went alongside, helped her fight her fire, take her dead & wounded, or whole crew if she was sinking. It is passed mid-night now. Four ships caught a dive each. Two Sea plane tenders, APD-29 and an LSM. The same old story over again. I have no idea now of the damage that has been inflicted to our Navy--But it is the heaviest in its history. In history, no such fantastic warfare has been carried on to such an extent. On the Beach, Eighty odd thousand Japs have been killed, and only 1,600 surrendered. They really fight close to the last man. Only a hand full left now, all big guns have ceased firing for fear of hitting our Army. Its being finished with rifles, machine guns & flame throwers.
The U.S.S. PCE (R) 852 (Our Ship) has been recommended for the “Naval Unit Citation” for Heroic Deeds and Dangerious [sic] Missions Preformed (sic) At Okinawa. By the Commandore [sic] of the destroyer Flotilla.” The endorsement I read compliments us very, very highly and says our Ship has been an inspiration to the Naval Forces at Okinawa. The “Naval Unit Citation” is equal to the “Silver Star” and next to the “Presidential Citation.” It will make eight ribbons I can wear, and I hope the Ninth will be the “Final Victory Medal”!
Our Skipper, Lt. Irwin, & Communication Officer Lieut. Laeltz have recieved (sic) orders back to the States when their relief arrives. Expect them any day.
We all hate to lose them, but at the same time are very glad for them. It is truly a loss of two personal friends to me, and I never expect I’ll see either again.
This seems to be a very fitting place to bring this little green book to an end. I am tired keeping such a diary, and hope you understand.